DMV compromises on medical waivers for commercial licenses

The Department of Motor Vehicles has reached a compromise over a plan to stop issuing waivers to commercial drivers with medical conditions the federal government says should prohibit them from driving.

"DMV curtailed the medical-waiver program for commercial driver's licenses because it was determined the department did not have the medical expertise to make those judgments," said spokesman Tom Jacobs.

"The department's concern is making sure roads are as safe as possible for all drivers and that it doesn't put the state into a questionable legal situation."

The decision drew protests because, if the state stops its waiver program, drivers with medical issues would have to go to the federal government. And federal transportation officials won't issue a commercial license to drivers who suffer from diseases such as diabetes or epilepsy, even if the individual can prove they haven't suffered a seizure or loss of consciousness in years.

Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, said the result would put drivers who have been safe for years out of work.

"It didn't make any sense they were going to take these guys licenses away," he said. "Most of them are Nevada drivers. The guy who talked to me was just hauling ore at a mine and this would put him in a welfare line."

Carpenter and fellow Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, met Thursday with DMV officials and motor transport representatives.

Jacobs and Carpenter both said the result was a compromise they hope will work until the 2007 Legislature meets: DMV will renew licenses for those drivers if they get a letter from a doctor saying they are safe to drive commercial vehicles.

But Jacobs said the long-term solution is the proposal made by Henderson Mayor and candidate for governor Jim Gibson who said lawmakers should fund a medical waiver program at DMV.

"The obvious solution is a medical review program established and funded by the Legislature if the state is to issue waivers," Jacobs said. "What (Gibson's) asking for is what we wanted and it's the way other states do it."

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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